n. A door with a design that makes it difficult to determine the correct way to open the door.
A so-called “Norman Door” has design elements that give you the wrong usability signals to the point that special signage is needed to clarify how they work. Without signs, a user is left guessing about whether to push or pull, creating needless frustration.
The “Norman door” dilemma can be seen in the design of many other everyday items, and even more so in the design of software and website interactions.
Can other objects be “Norman Doors,” if they cause a mismatched or ambiguous mental model of usage?
Over the years, alert readers of my books have frequently sent me photographs of amusing examples of poor design. Doors are the most common culprit, and to my dismay (and secret pride), really poorly designed doors are often called "Norman doors."
The "Norman" part of Norman door comes from Don Norman, who talked about these poorly designed doors in his classic 2002 book The Design of Everyday Things.